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DepressionIt’s something many of us deal with on a daily basis. After my accident in 1981, depression became an unwanted companion. For me it’s brought on by a chemical imbalance due to the brain not producing enough serotonin. For several years after botulism ravished my body, UCLA tried to kickstart the production of that chemical. Unfortunately the drugs had more side effects and eventually all became toxic. Exercise proved to be the greatest medicine to combat the aftermath of the botulism but it didn’t cure the depression or chronic pain. The good news is that in spite of this… I went on to have a solo career in music.

At the beginning of my recovery I constantly told myself not to believe the negative voices I kept hearing and that the hopeless feelings would pass. Spiritually, thanks to my relationship with Christ I had a higher power to go to. That still is my greatest source of strength.

Personally, I think that a great many people of faith don’t know what to do with the problem of depression. In the Christian community some say it spiritual oppression and that you need deliverance. I’m no theologian but having tried many things that were suggested by well meaning people, I’ve come to the conclusion that some things you deal with in life are meant to help you become a better person. Only speaking for myself but I truly believe I would not be who I am today without having experienced all the trials and tribulations, even up to this minute. How does one truly commiserate with another soul if you have no reference point of what that person is going through.

The dark moods and the depression are very real at the moment you feel them… the exhausting hopelessness coming out of nowhere is the worst. Each day I get through it by praying for peace in the midst of the mental storm going on. With the help of God, I’m able to take these mixed emotions and direct them into something positive… writing music and photography.


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any recollections from traveling on the road. Back in the late seventies I worked a couple tours with Pat and Debbie Boone. They were both very kind and gracious.

One summer we traveled the State Fair circuit. We were in the midwest and happened to arrive a day early to one of the fair’s. It turned out Frank Sinatra was doing a concert that evening and invited Pat and Debbie to attend. The band got to go as well. Pretty cool!
At this point I should say I’ve been a fan of Mr. Sinatra all my life. If a young singer wants to learn the art of vocal phrasing, just listen to one of his albums. At State Fair, Sinatra and maybe a few others wrote the book on how to interpret a song lyric and have it sound completely effortless. That’s my opinion anyway.
So, we arrive at the outdoor arena where the concert is about to start. Pat and Debbie are sitting up in the front row and the band is directly in front of the mixing console about fifteen/twenty rows back. We had great seats.

I think it was common during that time period for Mr. Sinatra to start his show with a stand-up comic who would come out and do fifteen or twenty minutes of shtick. That would be followed by a Broadway female singing sensation (named Lorna or Lola?) and then Frank would come out and do his set.

What I came to quickly discover was that the sound system was cutting in and out like a bad radio. I had a feeling that whoever was running the house system may have been a local and not Franks personal engineer.

At first I thought “well maybe the comic just has a bad mic.” Then the singer began with the orchestra and it just sounded terrible. I looked back toward the two guys at the mixing board and they were turning every nob they could franticly get their hands on. To no avail.
Lola and orchestra sounded like a bad short wave broadcast. It was really embarrassing. Then Frank Sinatra walks out on stage… I’m thinking,”Uh oh, oh no… This is not good!”
Sinatra started into his first song and it was not good. The speakers were clipping and cutting in and out. He finishes and begins his second song and the same thing is happening. He stops the music and points back to the two guys at the board and with a very perturbed tone says, “Where ya working tomorrow night?” Then he starts the song again. By the time he finished the song something amazing happened. The sound system changed from short wave radio to a beautiful, clear and warm hi-fi sounding PA system. And I’m not exaggerating this part to make the story more interesting. I was blown away at how great it sounded.

So now I’m getting into the music, listening to the wonderful standards the Sinatra made famous. I happen to look behind me at the mixing console and no one is there. Nobody is at the board! I had an image of those two sound guys speeding down the highway, heading to Canada or parts unknown.

Sinatra didn’t disappoint on any level that night. R.I.P. Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra

Below is one of my all-time favorite songs he recorded.

Max&MeMarch 19, 2013…
Funny how things can change so quickly. Last week I wrote the blog below. But I decided not to post it because it didn’t feel right for some strange reason. I’m hoping that posting it now may be cathartic for me (and maybe one of you.)
Now as I go through the stages of grief that one must go through when one loses someone they love. I think stage one may have started a little while back… denial.
The animal love of my life, Maxwell my fourteen year old cocker spaniel, passed away yesterday. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming at some point but it was still way too soon for me. These things always are. He leaves a big hole in my heart. ~RS

March 11, 2013…
“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.

It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”

~John Grogan, Marley and Me
I look into the mirror and think, where did the time go?
Then I look at my pets (we’re down to two dogs and two cats) and I think,”Dear Lord, I’ve had so many pets in my life… but they all leave me too soon.”

For my wife and I, our little guys are our kids, only they never left home.
Like John Grogan says, our pets spend most of their lives waiting for us to come home each day.They are always overjoyed to see us. Who else greets you like you’re the most important person in the world every-time you open the front door?

My cocker spaniel is getting up in dog years. He has arthritis in his legs and his eyes are getting a little cloudy. He has some other artifacts that seem to be inherent in the breed. We lost his older sister to a tumor.
Max wakes me in the middle of the night to let me know he really needs to go. Hopefully I’m quick enough to get up because he can’t hold it anymore like he used to. What someone might think is annoying to do every night has become something I almost look forward to. Our 3AM walks. I’ll take him out, and even if he doesn’t make it to the door, that’s okay. He getting up there and he’s tried! It’s only hard for me walking him if he loses his balance and starts to fall because of the arthritis. I ache for him at those moments. But he is so happy to be with my wife and me and is still as playful as a pup.

You see this little guy was (like the old song) that doggie in the window. He was the last of the cocker spaniel puppies at a pet store that my wife and I frequented in Granada Hills. No one wanted him because it appeared that he had a bad eye. He doesn’t. I saw him all alone in that cage and it was mutual love at first sight. I went home to tell my wife that we would be having another member added to our family. Then went back to the pet shop and brought him home. One of those few things that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt… I did right in my life. What I neglected to mention was we already owned his half sister from a year earlier. They were both from the same breeder. Zoe had the same dad (named Quick Draw!), different mom’s. I would have adopted rescues from the pound but at the time, this was the right thing to do.

My Max is fourteen now. As I’m writing this blog post, he’s looking at me as if to say, “Whatcha doing Dad? Can I help?”

Some people would say that I’m just anthropomorphizing my feelings onto a dumb animal. Well maybe… and maybe not. These little creatures reason, dream, express emotions, get depressed, love to play, will protect you and… they feel pain just like us. They know when we are feeling down. And unlike so many of us, they are always completely honest.
And their most God-like quality is their unconditional love.

When it comes time to put them to rest. Please don’t leave them in the last moments of their short little lives. It’s not about you and the pain your feeling right then. It’s about looking them in their eyes in their final moments, them hearing your soft voice speaking comforting loving words. They know the tone of your voice. Thank them for all those countless hours they waited for you as they go to their final rest. I can’t express how important I believe that is.

Just one more thing… If you believe in an afterlife. If you believe in a loving God (as I do). If you believe in Heaven. Know that all your little guys who left their paw prints on your hearts will be there at the proverbial Gate, so very excited to greet you once again when it’s finally your time to leave this world.

I admire people who stand up for animals. Not just dogs and cats but all animals. In my belief system, we were all given that responsibility and this old world hasn’t done a very good job of fulfilling it. But there are people and legitimate groups who are trying. Support them please when you can.

forgiveness-21“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ~ C.S. Lewis

This is actually a “tweaked” re-post from 2009 that I felt was worth repeating, if just for my own sake…

A few weeks ago I felt compelled to write two people and ask their forgiveness for anything I had done to offend or hurt them. I don’t hate or hold any animosity towards anyone… but like so many of us, I’ve been hurt by people and I know I have done or said something at sometime inadvertently to cause an offence in someone’s life.
The majority of the time I don’t believe it was intentional on either persons part. It still hurt though when I thought about them… and my feelings associated with the person registered negative in my gut.

Out of the two people I wrote, I honestly didn’t think I would get a response from either. But I did get one note back and that person was gracious, kind and forgiving (fact is they said there was nothing to forgive). The other person may never respond. I’ve extended the olive branch a few times over the years but it never came back.
I did my part though. I took the first step.

Doctor King said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

You only hurt yourself by holding on to bitterness, resentfulness, unforgiveness towards another person no matter how they treated you. I want and desire to be the kind of person that says “forgive me for whatever I did to hurt you!” Whether or not it was me or them that caused the offence.

It’s the only way that I’ve found in life to truly be free of the negative associations one can easily collect on this road of life. I also remind myself that it does not matter if they can’t forgive you. You want them to naturally, but that part is up to them.

The important thing is you are no longer carrying that baggage around (peace of mind from doing the act doesn’t necessarily come overnight but you’ll feel that peace in time).

In a perfect world it would be great to experience an embrace from that offended person and hear the words, “I forgive you, please forgive me.” But in the real world there’s a good chance you may also hear, “I can never forgive what you did to me.”
I’ve come to terms with that one finally in life.

My Savior said:
This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
~Matthew 6:9-15

Unforgiveness is like a cancer. It will slowly eat away at your life, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

Again, don’t think you’re getting off easy by just saying to yourself, “Oh, I forgive them!”… and let that be the end of it. It doesn’t work!
Go to them, call or write them (don’t text!). Do whatever it takes on your part to make things right. For your sake.
Your life will be better because of it. I promise! ~Richard

As a postscript: I did finally get a note from the other person I had written and it was so toxic that I could not finish reading it. Life is not like the movies with happy endings in each situation but I forgive the person and someday perhaps that person will forgive me… 70×7


Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Recently I watch the film Lincoln by master filmmaker Steven Spielberg. Had he only made one film in his career, Schindler’s List, he would have made a positive impact forever on our world. He’s made many great films.
I also just watched an much older film by another great filmmaker, Frank Capra called Meet John Doe. Mr. Capra’s body of work has made this world a better place for people like myself. I’m a better person for having seen his films.

Films do many things besides making money for the companies that release them. Among many other things including a movie’s original intent, entertainment, they have the power to influence the viewer. They can imprint something positive or negative into a life.

I’m not about to go down the rabbit hole of “what is art?” Violence, horror, anti-hero’s, etc. The “Ratings Game.”

My focus is only on the positive power of filmmaking. I’m a better person for having seen Meet John Doe, It’s A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington , Lost Horizon, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town and You Can’t Take It With You.

These films were made before I was born. Yet I carry their imprint in me. They were black and white not only in the grain of the film but in their moral compass which I embraced at an early age.

We live in anything but a black and white world. It never was a black and white world. Capra knew that and Spielberg knows it. We’re reminded daily in the news reports of it. But much like the food we eat, the films we watch …with a note to my filmmaker friends, the films you make, can shape someones life and I hope personally for the better. ~Richard

From 1951 to 1956, Floyd Boes was my step-father.

Mom was on her third marriage. Now I have to thank my father for being Mom’s second husband because I would not be here otherwise.

Long story short. I blame religion for what happened and I thank God for what happened. I’ve never looked at the two subjects as being synonymous.

Long before my father Howard came into the picture my Mom met Floyd, who was Catholic. Mom was Mormon as was my grandmother who lived with us. This complicated things but there was one other problem. Floyd was madly in love with my Mother. Mom loved Floyd, he was her best friend but she wasn’t romantically in love with him.

Now Floyd was a handsome man and a good talker. Back then, a successful used car salesmen had to be a good talker. His sales pitch to Mom was, “Katherine, I know you’re not in love with me but I have enough love for the both of us.”

Floyd finally convinced my Mom to marry him at a Catholic church in Santa Barbara. Guess who was in the back seat of the car on the drive up. Once my grandmother saw the church, she refused to go in. She didn’t want her daughter to marry out of her faith. So Mom and Floyd got married., then several days later, much to my grandmother’s relief and misguided prayers, Mom and Floyd had the marriage annulled.

Mom went back to work in film at Universal and doing public relations work for Bill Lear who at the time was developing and selling wire recorders.

Lear had contacted James Lansing because he needed a horn-based loudspeaker designed for his wire recorder console. Lansing sent my father out to see exactly what Lear wanted. Mom happened to be at the company office that day. It was love at first sight for both. Dad was a eloquent charmer, highly educated, had taught at UCLA for a time. He was living back east so most of their courtship was through correspondence, “love letters.” Keep in mind, Floyd was still Mom’s best friend in spite of the annulment and it must have been very hard on him.

Well those love letters worked. They set a date and were married. Dad was agnostic but to make Grandma happy, he had converted to Mormonism for the ceremony. His business partners jokingly said, “you’re marring two fine girls!”

Did I mention, he didn’t like the idea of my grandmother living with them (much to her surprise). Grandma had to go. Mom said, “Nope, she stays or I go!” Dad, who was then traveling back and forth on business, acquiesced but my grandmother knew she was on his shortlist.

Their marriage lasted long enough for Mom to become pregnant with me. During the nine months of her pregnancy, the relationship quickly fell apart. But… there was always Floyd to commiserate with. He never stopped loving her. He was always there for her.

My father wasn’t around when I was born. He had moved back east and wanted Mom to have me there. She insisted on being in LA at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital with her own doctor. There’s more to the drama than this, but the point is Floyd was always there.

After the divorce, Mom felt I needed a father figure in my life and my grandmother had come to the conclusion that marrying Floyd wasn’t such a bad idea after all!

I have vivid memories of my step-father. He loved me like I was his own child. I remember Christmas with him and  remember him taking me to the park in Toluca Lake to feed the ducks. I can still hear his voice in my head.

Then we all moved to Granada Hills from North Hollywood. Shortly after that, Floyd moved from the main house into our guesthouse. Next thing I knew Mom told me that he was in the hospital over on Balboa near Ventura Blvd. I wanted to visit my step-dad (did I say yet how much I loved this man). The hospital at that time wouldn’t allow children into the rooms but he was in a room by the parking lot and so I would go and wave to him in the window. I could see him in the hospital bed waving back at me with a smile on his face.

One day Mom came up to me and said, “Dad has gone to Indiana to be with his family to get rest.”

Maybe I wasn’t the sharpest kid on the block or she was a very convincing actress (which she was) but I believed her story. I’d ask her every week, “is he coming back soon?” Months went by and then Mom finally told me the truth. “Richie, Dad is never coming home. He’s in Heaven now.”

I found out that Floyd had a coronary thrombosis and passed away in that hospital. Professor Giles, my piano teacher who loved me, felt it would be too much for me to handle at that age. He felt it would be better to break the news to me very slowly. I so disagree but that situation was beyond my control and who knows?

Over the course of the years that passed, I met my real father. We connected at different times in my life and I discovered that he too loved me in his own way.

But I still hear Floyd’s voice as clear as yesterday in my head.

I tell myself too many times.
Why don’t you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut ~Annie Lennox – Why

Ever had a day that you wish you could just take an eraser to it?

Today I had one. Today I disappointed myself and I have the feeling that others were disappointed in me as well.

It always seems to be based around misunderstandings. The communication gap that happens between my brain and my mouth in this case.

You know it’s really true that the power of life and death are in the tongue. You choose to speak positive things about someone or negative. Your heart can be in the right place but it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re speaking ill of someone or divulging information that’s meant to be kept private. Don Henley said, “everyone loves dirty laundry.”

Once those old words get out into the atmosphere, there’s no retrieving them.

I’ll elaborate a little.
I have some young friends who I love with all my heart. They took a road that I took at their age. They did stupid things that I did at their age. I paid a dear price. I didn’t want to see them experience the pain I experienced from the decisions in my youth.I discussed their situation openly when I should not have.

But you know what?
You cannot change someone else. You can only change yourself. Todd Rundgren said, “I want to change the world, I want to make it well.”
How can I change the world when I can’t change myself.”

You have heard the expression, “Throwing someone under the bus.”
My heart has been to keep these kids from getting thrown under the bus. But today, I threw them under the bus accidentally. Not that they’ll ever know. They don’t read my blog. Point is, my words, my heart exposed the truth. The loyalty I seek in others, I discover when put to the test, is sometimes absent in myself. I hate that.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Think before you speak. Take my word on that…or maybe you better not! ~RS

My step-father was a used car salesman at a place called The Holt Motor Company in Van Nuys CA. One day two ex-army men came into his showroom to buy a car and in the course of their conversation with him, it came out that they owned a military school for young boys in Northridge CA. I was at the age where I was about to start kindergarten and my grandma had already decided that I was destined to go to Annapolis and become a military officer. My step-dad knew this so decided to do a little horse trading as in “I’ll give you a deal on that car if you’ll do the same for me regarding my son’s education.”

Next thing I know, I’m being informed that I’ll be going to a special school and getting fitted for a little military uniform. What my mom, step-dad or grandma didn’t realize was that this was a school for incorrigible children. A place for troubled boys to learn discipline, where corporal punishment was how they kept you in line. Sounds like a Dickens novel.

These two brothers didn’t have degree’s in child education or any kind of foundation to teach young boys. They taught the proper technique of taking an M1 rifle apart and putting it back together in sixty seconds (which I got good at under duress!). The students lived in constant fear of screwing up and getting physically punished (when they weren’t picking fights with each other).

Sometimes discipline happened publicly, in plain view of all the students, other times behind closed doors. This wasn’t the place for a sensitive child to learn his A,B,C’s but my family didn’t realize it at the time and I wasn’t about to tell them for fear of my life (in my kid mind).

My step-dad passed away a year into this which made matters worse. As soon as that happened, the two brothers began moving in on Mom, trying to date her. I’d get home from school trying to detox from the stress of the day and a few hours later these two brothers would come knocking on our door. They’d say “we just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought we’d come by to see how your Mom was doing.”

About four years into military school, we attended a parent/son get-together at school. Mom excused herself to use the restroom and on her way there saw a young boy being beaten by the captain for doing something. Mom immediately stopped the punishment and decided at that moment to take me out of military school.

Later she asked me about what she saw and said “have you seen this happen before and has it ever happened to you?” I told her that I’d seen it many times but that it only happened to me a couple times and never bad like some of the kids.

What’s the point of my story?

Some children don’t have the skill set or the understanding to explain to their parents what happens to them at times when their parents aren’t around. Especially when the fear of something bad happening to them is a possibility.

If you have young children, keep this in mind. ~RS

Maybe it’s moving to Las Vegas that has been provoking these childhood memories I’ve been having at night before I go to sleep…

Back in the late 50’s early 60’s, Mom, Grandma and me would leave late at night from Granada Hills, CA and drive to Las Vegas usually for the holidays. Two ladies and a little boy in a Cadillac Coupe Deville. It was much cooler to drive at night than in the heat of the day. I guess we had air conditioning but I don’t remember using it? One of Mom’s “trip rituals” was to put a “clay pack” on her face. She could give herself a facial while she was driving. But it also made her look like a zombie! Those clay packs were green and when left on the face for a period of time, would start cracking. It was creeping looking. She said she did this facial thing partly for our protection driving late at night. I mean who would want to mess with a zombie in a Coupe Deville!

I asked her once how did she come up with that idea. It seemed to work. We never got hassled. Lot of strange looks though.
She related a story about her driving cross country years before on her way back to LA from Wisconsin. It was late at night. She came on a long stretch of barren road, pitch black, not another car in sight. Bored, she decided to give herself a facial. She applied this green clay pack stuff as she was driving. Farther down the road with still no cars or town in sight, she sees what appears to be two bright lights in the distance quickly approaching. They looked like they were coming down from the sky and heading right toward her. What she couldn’t see in the darkness was the highway was actually heading up a mountain (it was the lights from another car). Frightened that it might be a plane trying to land, she pulled over to the side and the car slipped off the road and went off into a gully. Fortunately it wasn’t a steep gully but Mom was shook up. She sat there for a few minutes and out of nowhere she hears the sound of an old pickup truck screeching to a stop. Looking up toward the road, Mom sees an old farmer (her words) with a flashlight and his elderly wife getting out of truck beginning to make their way down the gully towards the Coupe yelling, “are you all right, are you all right?” Mom yells back, “yes, I’m all right!” The old man and his wife come up to the drivers window, shine the flashlight into Mom’s green face. They began screaming at the top of their lungs as if they just saw a ghost. They immediately start scrambling back up the gully. The farmer drops his flashlight. Their both screaming like banshees now. Practically climbing over each other as if it was every man for himself. They couldn’t get back into that pickup fast enough. Start the engine, hit the gas, make a u-turn and take off like as bat outa… Mom then regains her composure, puts the Coupe into drive and slowly maneuver’s it back up onto the road. About half hour later she sees a gas station. She pulls in, quickly gets out of the car unseen and makes a dash for the ladies room. Washes off the green clay pack. Walks back to her car where the station attendant is standing. He says “filler up?” Mom says,”please!” The attendant shaking his head then says, “Ma’am, you would not believe what I saw a little while ago. An old pickup truck comes roaring past here. Had to be doing at least eighty. Some old couple driving, screaming their heads off out the window. Never seen anything like it before!”
Mom paid for the gas, got back on the road and continued on to LA.